Who's got the biggest heart?
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s Democratic rivals used a news conference this afternoon to decry his past Medicaid cuts in strikingly similar language that sounded like a preview for the upcoming contest.
In tough budget times last summer, some recent legal immigrants were cut from Maryland's Medicaid rolls. The immigrants--more than 4,000 pregnant women and children --were not covered by the federal government.
Del. Anthony G. Brown (D-Prince George's), the running mate of Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, said the governor's decision to deny access to legal immigrants who have lived in the United States for fewer than five years was "not only irresponsible, it's just downright heartless."
Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan went next. He called the cuts "hard-hearted" and asked how the governor could "sleep at night when you tell pregnant woman and children they can't get health care."
The governor's budget provides $3 million in grants to local health departments to provide services to low-income immigrants. But advocates say it's not the same as comprehensive benefits they lost last summer and are backing legislation by Del. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George's) to provide $7 million in the Medicaid budget.
The governor's budget secretary Cecilia Januszkiewicz said Ehrlich's spending plan invests in all sorts of children's programs - from foster care to public school construction. And she said, "We believe we've provided funding for those vulnerable children."
For his part, Ehrlich spent part of the afternoon mingling with kids at an ice cream social in Annapolis for his Office of Children and the state's Children's Cabinet.
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